Experiencing Resilience…I hope

Don’t fall out of your chair – Yes, this is a blog entry from David E White – and I confess that it has been far too long, with some difficulty in between.


“An easy life is rarely meaningful and a meaningful life rarely easy.”
Oliver North, Counterfeit Lies

What do you do when you feel that you are losing your bearings? I am not referring to ball-bearings, which would amount to mental marbles in this case (which, in hind-sight, may actually work) – but rather the coordinates for your life journey.

Let me cut to the chase – this past year has been a difficult one for me. For a variety of reasons, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. I have been depressed before – but never like I was during several significantly low periods this past year. Ironically, the speaker, writer, facilitator and consultant (aka: expert) on the topic of resilience, was starting to look like he wouldn’t be so resilient himself. Please Continue Reading …

Warm Memories: Your living epitaph

My father was just 42 when he was permanently disabled and institutionalized. My mother was just 37 when she died. These two events have forced me to take the pursuit of the meaning of life seriously.


Some have suggested that when we think about the meaning of my life, we should think about what we want our eulogy to be, or what we would want to have on our headstone. While these may be valid, I think there is an additional way. Please Continue Reading …

Courage…to be real

I believe that we all struggle with a sense of insecurity. I don’t know if this is the case, but I would be willing to bet that it is true for the vast majority of us at some time or another.


Insecurity is a difficult thing to live with. It challenges us in relationship. It leads us to compromise and to alter our behavior in potentially limiting and even damaging ways. It takes courage to overcome insecurity.

I have defined courage as the ability to act rightly in the face of discouragement. However, I also like Brene Brown’s definition. She defines courage in this way: “To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”. She explains it this way:  Please Continue Reading …

Positive Thinking

Another year rolls in, and with it a barrage of commercials promoting the latest diet programs! New Years is the customary time to reflect and adjust…but for those of us calibrating life, this is a regular habit throughout the year…right?! 🙂 Along with the diet programs, you will be inundated with self-help advice in the area of achieving the “good life”, “fulfillment”…and the good old standby: “success”.


Be honest now…we are not so stupid as to belief that simply thinking about something will make it happen. As much as I enjoyed playing baseball (a true lifeline as a kid)…I can think I will pitch in the major leagues of baseball all I want…it is not going to happen! This is not just due to my age…it was not going to happen when I was younger either!

Most often inserted somewhere in the list of self-help advice is the concept of “visualization” (remember “The Secret”). While I do not have a problem with the concept of visualization, I do have a slightly different angle Please Continue Reading …

Being, Doing, Becoming…

I have written often to exhort leaders to slow down, emphasizing that we are not human doings, but rather human beings. I have sought to remind leadership within our often imbalanced culture that we work to live, not the other way around. I have pointed out that many seek power, fame and glory, only to lose the family, friends, and sometimes even their self.

I do not wish to recant any of this, for I believe what I have written to be true. Having said that, I am finding that it is not enough to relax back to “being” alone. True, we hold the beauty of the miraculous gift of life in our being, and we ought not to lose sight of this in pursuing our doing… Please Continue Reading …

Rising up out of Dissonance

Broken relationships cost us much in life…work, family, community…all suffer when we have a loss of quality relationship. Trust and respect are the foundation to relationship…and they necessitate effort to achieve them.

We see the vision (albeit a bit blurry through tears at times) of how life could be with better quality relationship. We see our reality and all that we would like to change…and we live in the space in between (cognitively – dissonance); not fully resigned to current reality, yet not fully achieving vision….a state of conflict.

This may sound overly dramatic, but I find that the longer I pursue the vision, wherein the achievement eludes, the more I experience an internal conflict.

When vision eludes for extended seasons there must be firm conviction; a substance solid enough for us to continue in the journey…to continue to expend effort, believing that one day the vision will become the new reality.

At some point in the journey, we will encounter internal and external voice that suggests we are foolish for believing that the vision could ever be reality. These voices (either source) are less important than the source of the conviction. Is the vision truth – or is it not?

Will memories of past abuse fade if trust and respect are present? Yes.

Will a team engage more if trust and respect are present? Yes.

Will we experience a greater sense of fulfillment if we are able to engage? Yes.

Ultimately, trust and respect are fulfilled in love. Love is the means by which we rise up out of dissonance to experience the fullness of vision…even vision beyond what we can see.

Optimal (book excerpt): Achievement

The systems for achievement within our culture work well…sort of. We have great schools for education, and we can further our studies through university or college, secure a trade or profession, and insert ourselves into an organization productively. Through a steady stream of income, we can acquire most or all of what our heart might yearn for, and yet there is a continual need for more.

Fulfillment can’t be summed up in abundance. We seem to be perpetually suffering from the law of diminishing return. Our parents longed for indoor plumbing, our kids long for I-Phone’s. No one seems to be more satisfied.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA, Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.

Could it be that we have more of what we think we want, but nothing of what we truly need?

Success: The other side of the mountain

While cycling in the mountains this past week, I was reminded of an important principle: Success is not just about what you accomplish…but also about what you overcome.

During the final day of our three-day route, we had to climb about 9 K of steep (4.4% grade) hill. Approximately half way into the climb I began to feel that I would not make the grade (in more ways than one!)  I was dressed too warm, and began to overheat. My water was nearly gone, and I had no fuel left in the tank. I was also fighting my mind, which seemed to be quite willing to accept the possibility of an extended layover or even a DNF (did not finish) as a final outcome.

I have felt this way before…in life and business. Circumstances have conspired to bring me to a similar place of fearing that I would not “make the grade”, or post a less than flattering “DNF”. To some cyclists a 4.4% grade is nothing. (Indeed, we were passed by a triathlete who was doing the whole 350 K’s in one day!) However, to me it was a mountain.

Thankfully a buddy helped me out, sourcing a bagel and water from a  friendly CPR employee. A brief rest, along with a great conversation (enough to remove my mind from the “mountain” in front of me) and I was back in the saddle with renewed optimism.

We all have our mountains. The size of our particular mountain is only one factor…our resources (capacity, competency, companions, etc) are also a factor.Two years ago I would have scoffed at the suggestion that I could ride 350 K’s through the mountains. The same buddy that handed me the bagel, offered the encouragement and opportunity to begin cycling in the first place. Great companion!

Just a little ways past the 9 K hill I enjoyed an extended downhill stretch, enough to reach speeds of 70+ KPH! Exhaustion quickly gave way to exhilaration! I enjoyed the satisfaction of overcoming a mountain, and enjoyed the reward on the other side of the challenge.

Maybe life and business are not so different from cycling. If we hang in there and face the mountain, surround ourselves with great companions, build competency and capacity, we will survive to enjoy the reward on the other side.

Optimal (book excerpt): HOPE

Without hope in the future, there can be no power in the present. Who would have power or energy to put into a task which they knew would be ultimately pointless or futile? By way of example, imagine painting the railing on the Titanic, while it was sinking. Or how about washing your car while it is raining, knowing full well that you will have three miles of gravel road to travel on the way home. Or what about repairing and repainting the “door dings” in the side of the family car knowing that your daughter will park in the student lot at school for another 4 years. People would have to be insane to do such a thing!

A friend of mine tells me that we can live for a few weeks without food; a few days without water; but not a second without hope. The same man tells me that it is the primary responsibility of every leader to foster hope. I believe him, on both counts. Even false hope can serve to keep us alive, but no hope? We need to hope, and it must be in truth.

This statement is also true with moderate rephrasing: “generate hope for the future, and gain power in the present”. Had the Titanic indeed pulled into port on its maiden voyage, you can bet that the deck and railing would have been squeaky clean and sparkling bright. Many would have had this picture in their mind, up until the disaster.

Vision is the depiction of hope. The picture we hold out in our mind can either spur us on to perform on purpose, or bring us to a point of hopeless resignation. The vision we hold must be based in truth, and further it must relate to our foundational purpose, for if it is not, then we are destined for regret.

Optimal (book excerpt): Dreaming…

Somewhere along the way, I stopped dreaming. I doubt it was this particular day that I have mentioned, but maybe another like it. Or maybe it was a gradual progression of dreaming less, and “adjusting myself” to be more “practical” or pragmatic. I didn’t notice it at the time, and it was only recently that I came to realize that something was missing. I had taken the Myers Briggs test, and the personality profile categorized me as an idealist, and suggested that one of my primary motivations is to think intuitively: to ponder not just about how things are, but also how they could be; to dream! My counselor / interpreter explained that my general personality type was highly adaptive, I could get through life doing things I wasn’t wired to do. She used the example of my writing with my left (opposite) hand, and suggested that while I could do it, just think what it would be like if I could start proactively living according to my wiring, like writing with my right hand! Just imagine what a person, wired to dream, could dream up if encouraged to pursue and embrace the activity!

Dreaming is not just for idealists. Somewhere along the way someone told me that, “without hope in the future, there is no power in the present”. I believe that if we lose our dreams, we lose our hope. If we lose our hope, we perish. Maybe we don’t literally disappear, but we stop living on purpose, and we begin to coast through life in a state of numb compliance with our surroundings. For some this might be a disengaged contentedness, but for others, despair.